by Janny Castillo
YouTube has videos about miracles. I saw one recently. It was about an infant in Syria found buried deeply in the rubble of a building that collapsed after a blast.
The men, the child’s rescuers — sometimes four, sometimes as many as six — hear a small cry from a hole completely covered with gravel, very much underground. They begin to dig frantically with their hands to reach the child. They shout for the child to speak out, so they can better determine where to dig.
They dig, they shout, they dig more, they shout even louder, and twice I hear a cry from under the ground.
Where was the baby? There is no evidence of a structure, only rubble, and the more they dig, they only find more rubble. How can anyone, much less a child, be alive under there?
They dig some more. It was a long time before I see a sleeve. A red sleeve. The rescuers begin screaming desperately, digging away the small stones and gravel. A small hand appears, a baby’s hand.
Unbelievable, I thought. Unbelievable.
Many hands dig and dig, frantically yelling to each other, and to the baby. I couldn’t understand a word they were saying, but I thought it must have been, “Hold on, we are coming, hold on.”
Finally, a small dusty head appears. A baby, maybe six to nine months old, a perfect coating of dust in his eyes and on his face, not moving, perfectly still. I think the unthinkable — that they found him but it was too late.
The men keep digging around the baby, uncovering more and more of his body.
Finally, I see the baby’s head flop back and his eyes open. Then I see him lift his hand to wipe the dust from his eyes. Several of the men try to help him. They wipe his little chubby face. The baby lifts his arm again and wipes. Two of the men help him wipe the dust and pat him on the chest to help him breath.
And still they dig. And there is still much yelling going on. Frantic, desperate to get him out. He is only halfway out now. The torso and his legs are wedged deep into the ground.
At one point, a metal bar is needed to move a stubborn piece of concrete. The rescuer gently covers the baby to protect him. The bottom half of the baby is hard to get out, so wedged in he is.
His rescuers do not give up.
Finally, with many screams of joy, one man lifts the baby free into the arms of another that holds him really close.
Amazing, I thought. That a baby could survive under rubble, buried deep in the ground. That he cried and someone heard him. That they found him and were able to save him. That he lived. Amazing.
Then I thought….
What if Poverty is rubble and many people are buried deep under it? What if they cried but no one heard, and no one came to rescue them?
It feels like that, sometimes. Like there is no way out, not enough money, not enough food, but plenty of despair, hurt, loneliness — and so little help.
Being buried deep under Poverty can feel like being buried under rubble.
OK, I say. There are plenty of people with me. Plenty of people, who if no one comes to rescue us. Hell! We’ll just dig ourselves out.
Janny Castillo is Hope and Justice Coordinator at St. Mary’s Center. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org